When I was trying to decide where and when to settle down in Europe, I was swayed by two things: my friend had an available apartment for me in Prague and Paul McCartney was going to be here at the O2 Arena two days before my birthday (and his!).
I’ve been to a lot of concerts and to a lot of arenas. All of them have their own rules and specifications. And as someone who doesn’t speak a word of Czech, I had no idea what to expect from the O2 or how to navigate it. But now that I’ve done it, here are some tips.
For some reason when you look up Google Map directions from central Prague to the arena, it tells you there are no public transportation routes. That’s actually not true. You can get to the arena easily one of two ways:
- The Metro, on Line B (yellow) to the Ceskomoravska station.
- Tram 8 or 25 to the Multiarena Praha stop.
I took the Metro, which is a simple route from anywhere in Prague. You don’t even have to remember the name of the station because the metro map has a picture of the arena on the Ceskomoravska stop. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to get there from city center, accounting for a connection from the A or C lines. That seems to be the most popular route and despite being absolutely packed after the show, I was out of there in 5 minutes with a train car full of people singing Hey Jude. This is where Prague’s honor system train culture comes in handy. No long lines for tickets or at turnstiles. But if public transportation seems too daunting, you can Uber for $10-13 from city center.
If you don’t have tickets in advance, the box office is to the left of the North Entrance (the one that faces the Ceskomoravska metro station). Typically scalpers also hang around here trying to offer you discounted tickets. I’ve had good mixed luck with that, and in my experience, it works best when the show is not sold out.
For more information on how to get concert tickets in Prague, click here.
Getting into the O2 Arena
There are two main entrances to the O2. The North entrance is the main one and it’s located right outside the metro station. Apparently, the South entrance is only used when large attendance is expected and that is on the 2nd floor. I walked around when I arrived and I couldn’t find another entrance. And if a sold out Paul McCartney show is not large spectator attendance, I don’t know what is.
Now this is where it gets tricky. Most venues in the US have a line or several depending on section where people who came first are ordered as such. At the O2 Arena, there was no one outside and no signs so there were just 18 small lines to get into the arena at each of the turnstiles. For this particular show, the standing room was divided into two sections, one in front of the stage and one in the second half of the arena. There were no distinctions in the small lines for that either.
Although that sounds like chaos, the process is extremely organized. Doors typically open 1.5-2 hours before the show. Already 30 minutes before, you can see security inside getting ready for the influx of concertgoers. If you’re trying to get a good spot on rail, you should line up as close to the left side as possible, regardless of whether you have floor tickets or front of the stage tickets, because the entrance to the floor area is also to the left when you enter from the North side.
Sometimes people tend to file behind other people, leaving some lines totally empty. As long as there’s a security person on the other side of that door, you can line up there. The doors all open at once and all respective lines make their way inside.
The line for security is straightforward. Save yourself time by taking everything out of your pockets and putting it in a basket or purse which passes through on its own while you walk through a metal detector. Since everyone is getting in at the same time, your goal is to clear security as quickly as possible before the people in the 17 other lines do.
In the Arena
After security, you have to scan your ticket in one of the machines at the entrance. Once you enter the O2 Arena, there will be signs for the different sections (100, 200, etc). If you’re on floor, you will have to go downstairs on the left hand side, following signs for section 0. In order to be allowed there, you have to scan your ticket in again.
Since there were two floor sections for this particular show, there was an extra check downstairs for people with front-of-stage floor tickets. A man with a handheld machine scans your ticket and then you get a wristband. This was a bit of a mess and no one spoke English. If there is only one general admission standing room area, they only look at your ticket to see if you’re in the right place.
If you do have front-of-stage tickets you go in through the big double doors. If you have general floor tickets, you go right down a long corridor that takes you to the back part of the floor section.
Of course, if you have assigned seats in the arena, I can’t imagine why you would go through all this trouble before the show starts. You can stroll into the arena at your leisure anytime and find your seat.
During the Show
People in Prague are surprisingly courteous and relaxed, even at events as big as Paul McCartney. Both in the lines outside and 4 rows deep in the pit of the general admission area, no one shoved or was disrespectful. Right before the show, arena staff passed large cups of water back to the people in the pit (though this is not standard for all shows), which was nice because when you’ve been standing for 4 hours with no food or drink, you need some hydration.
One final tip: Bring cash for food, drinks, and merchandise.
Despite being a little disoriented at first, the process was fairly straightforward, and I’m confident I can get a spot on the rail next time Sir Paul McCartney is in town at the O2 Arena. In the meantime, I’m practicing with Lenny Kravitz and Arcade Fire.
Get the GPS-guided version of this and other articles about Prague on GPSmyCity here.